Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila has died aged 76 in Manila. Leader of some 75 million Filipino Catholics, Cardinal Sin was a witty conservative noted for his spirited pronouncements. He flaunted the comedy inherent in his name: his Manila centre was called "The House of Sin."
He was an openly political churchman, playing a central role in the popular toppling of two Phillipine presidents. In 1986, Cardinal Sin spearheaded "people-power" demonstrations which led to the departure of long-term dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
"We got rid of Ali Baba, " Cardinal Sin observed of this coup, "but the forty thieves remained."
Marcos' immediate successor was Cory Aquino, widow of the assassinated opposition leader. She was succeeded in her turn by the notoriously louche President Estrada, during whose term the distribution of condoms became government policy. When scandals engulfed Estrada's administration, Cardinal Sin was again a key figurehead in bringing the tainted President down.
"My duty," he once said, "is to put Christ into politics. Politics without Christ is the greatest scourge of our nation."
His political interventions made Cardinal Sin a bit of a maverick whose actions ruffled feathers not only in Manila but also in Rome. One example was his visit to China where the Cardinal was compromised by contacts with Christian groups supportive of the Chinese regime.
Cardinal Sin will be lain to rest this Tuesday in the crypt of Manila Cathedral.
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